MINI John Cooper Works WRC Is Safest Rally Car Ever, Prodrive Claims

The Prodrive-developed John Cooper Works WRC, unveiled in early April 2011, comes as an important step forward in the safety of world rally cars, the Germans at BMW claim. They recently released details supporting that statement, and which focuses on the car’s ground-breaking roll cage design.

The roll cage has a unique side-impact structure which the engineers from Prodrive believe make it the safest rally car ever. This is due to the innovative door beams which curve outwards, allowing them to withstand much greater impact forces and to begin the deceleration of the car sooner and over a longer period of time.

It all started with an extensive study of crash data and inspiration from the strength of the MINI Countryman bodyshell.

To evaluate how different roll cage joints and welds performed, Prodrive specially prepared more than 50 roll cage joint samples and carried out physical tests on each one to see how each would fail. This led to the complete redesign of many of the joints and the use of a different welding process, as well as the application of a new grade of steel for the cage tubing.

The team is justifiably proud of its achievement which has come at no cost to the car’s performance. Also so safe is the new design that the FIA is now looking to make the unique side impact configuration mandatory in future designs of motorsport roll cages.

“The new generation of rally cars are more compact than before, however we wanted to ensure that the crew were safer than ever and also that the car felt as spacious as possible. This brought some unique challenges,” the MINI WRC Team’s Technical Director, Dave Wilcock, explained.
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